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Stencilling Tutorial

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Athin Ordo

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Stencilling Tutorial
« on: Oct 06, 2009, 05:00 PM »
I was rolling over the idea of painting a kit, on which I'm mostly just practicing before I take on the pending heavy mando project, and had an idea.  At first I just planned to do some weathered olive-colored plates.  Now though, I had the idea to give a nod to Temuera Morrison's Maori heritage.  I started looking for Moko patterns (a style of tattooing from the Maori) to stencil onto my armor.  So far, I've thought up three ways to do stencils, and tried two of them.  Already I know that there are pros and cons to each method I've tried, but I'll keep experimenting and give the results.  I'm planning to try the other on the remaining plates, and I'll post here about the final products of each.
Method one: Lay out tape, sketch, cut, apply to plate, paint.
Method two: Lay out tape, Sketch, move to plate, cut, paint.
Method three: Tape plate, Sketch, cut, paint.

On all of it I started with masking tape.  I laid out a lot of strips and overlapped them.  Here it's important to overlap at least 1/8th of an inch, especially if you plan to cut the stencil first the put it onto the plate afterward. It's also important to use something non-porous so the tape doesn't get a good bond to that material.  I know, masking tape is supposed to not bond well to anything, but better safe than sorry.

I started with a pattern I found online, pulled it up on my computer and free handed it onto the tape with a sharpie to make sure it didn't come off.

Then I cut out the excess.  Here it's really important to use a fresh blade on your exact-o knife to make sure you get clean cuts and don't have to cut into the materiel underneath.  Mostly though, that's something to consider when using method One or Two.

Then I had to go through the tedious task of moving the pattern from the sign I used as a backing to the armor plates.  This is the big con of this method, moving the pieces makes it difficult to keep the spacing and positioning the same as when they are sketched, and there is a higher chance that the pieces will come apart on you (thus a lot of overlap is a good thing).  The movement thing is not such a bad thing if you don't have a complicated pattern.  the one I used was only 6 pieces, but a more complex pattern would be incredibly difficult.  but here are the chest plates with stencil:


Which is why I changed my approach with the next stencil I did.  I remembered a game that I absolutely loved from the PS2, "The Mark of Kri."  Anyone that has played this game knows the main character is a tattooed Conan-esque warrior.  What some might not know is that the tattoos, names, and one of the weapons in the game actually have roots in Maori culture.  So for my gut plate (and maybe my back plate if I feel really squirrely) I decided to use a tattoo from the game.  Specifically Rau's arm tattoo.  It took me a while to find a good picture of Rau that featured the tattoo, but eventually I found one, blew it up and printed out the pic, then trimmed off what I didn't need.

Then I did the same tape up a sign thing and started sketching.  I was a little skeptical that I could cut it out on the sign then move it, so I decided to move it before hand.  One of the big difficulties with this stencil was it complexity and the issue of symmetry.  I tried to do it freehand, but wasn't happy with the result so I laid down some tape sticky side up, traces, lined it up with the othe rhalf, stuck, traced again, and badda-bing!

I had to trim a lot off the edges when I put it on the plate, again to avoid distraction, and I think it turned out well.  On top of that, aligning it to the plate I had to do a little blandly and I ended up repositioning it twice on the plate.  But I did get it, eventually, and was ready to started the tedious process of cutting out the design.

I think it took me about an hour to cut this out with an exact-o knife.  and now we come to the problems with this method.  you have to cut on the surface you are working with.  This shouldn't be a big problem if you use light pressure and multiple passes and since you are going to paint over the stencil and undercoat, but it can be frustrating to those perfectionists out there.


So there's what I have so far.  Still have seven more plates at least to stencil and paint, probably more than that.  I think I'm going to cut out shin armor and plates for the back of my hand, which would bump that number up to 11, tedious road ahead, but I might not stencil the diamond or the hand armor.  For the back plate, I'm thinking about doing the big round assemblage of the six marks of Kri (for anyone who's played the game), though I'm hesitant because I plan to put a backpack on this kit and it would be covered up.

Questions? Comments? Criticisms?
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Tava Kishon

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Re: Stencilling Tutorial
« Reply #1 on: Oct 06, 2009, 05:05 PM »
Ok....thats just sick  :o :o

Re: Stencilling Tutorial
« Reply #2 on: Oct 06, 2009, 07:12 PM »
WOW! Thank you for this.. I was wracking my head over and over for ideas on how to pull off some similar with knotwork.. This will help immensely!!!
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Atin Verd

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Re: Stencilling Tutorial
« Reply #3 on: Oct 06, 2009, 07:29 PM »
Great tutorial definitely going to use this on my new armor plates
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Athin Ordo

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Re: Stencilling Tutorial
« Reply #4 on: Oct 06, 2009, 10:10 PM »
So I've been working on stenciling all day.  I posted on the Merc's board and it got linked in the sticky thread at the top of the Body Armor board today... WOOT!  Anyway, as a self-improving sort, I wasn't happy just freehanding stuff, I wanted drawn symbols.  Particularly, I wanted to put a Jaing Skull on one shoulder bell and the Veshok Clan symbol on the other, A hold over from my days in CAP.  As I recall, the right side of the uniform was "Who you are" and the left side of the uniform was "where you're from."  I knew from seeing pictures I could probably freehand the Jaing Skull (Right), but no way on the Veshok Clan Emblem (Left).  As you can see, I printed out the emblems I wanted to copy.  had to play with the scaling a little, but I got it right.  So I cut them out very close to the edges of the symbol.

I thought about a bunch of different ways to do this, but I finally decided that the best way to go about it would be basically following "Method Three" outlined previously.  So I eyeballed the width of tape I would need and taped up the shoulder bells.

Then I took the cut-outs of the symbols I wanted to duplicate, used a gluestick to adhere the cutouts to the shoulder bells.

After that, it took about an hour and a half to cut out all the details.  The Jaing Skull turned out to be a good warm up for the Veshok Clan Emblem as the latter had a ton of little thin points and bits. Here are the finished products.




Tips and tricks:
After spending the afternoon doing this, I've got a few pointers for you.  These are just things that have worked for me and they may not work for you, some of them are repeats I've put into previous instructions.
1)  Overlapping tape is good.[/b]  If you are planning on moving your stencil at all you really shouldn't skimp to try and save tape, it won't save you that much and the hassle of your stencil separating isn't worth it.  Even if you're not going to move your stencil, a good bit of overlap helps when peeling away the excess from the stencil
2)  Use a new blade.  You don't want to make a lot of passes if you can avoid it, and if you are slicing a fine point with a dull blade, chances are you are going to pull the point rather than cut cleanly.
3)  Cut toward the point from the center.  if you want a fine sharp point in your stencil, cut from the center of what will be left toward the tip of the point; that will minimize the chances of pulling the point and mucking up your point.
4)  When in doubt, support your stencil.  When you are pulling up the stencil, support what's going to stay, especially if you're not sure you cut all the way through the material, press down on what's supposed to stay stuck with your blade, or your finger, so it stays put.
5)  Take your time!  This is the biggest and most important part of stenciling finely detailed and complex projects.  Make sure you have the time to do the job, or be willing to stop in the middle if you need to.  Rushing it or getting frustrated isn't worth losing your details, the stencil, or deciding to scrap something that could otherwise be awesome!

That's about all I can think of at the moment, to do and to offer as help.  Hope it helps some people with getting some great details on their kit.
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Taglar Dreskk

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Re: Stencilling Tutorial
« Reply #5 on: Oct 08, 2009, 12:56 PM »
Haha!  Very nice.  Very similar to my tape stencil tutorial I had over in the Mando armor planning section.
http://mandalorianmercs.org/forum/index.php?topic=13852.0

Only difference is that I did mine where you paint inside the cut areas rather than outside the cut areas.  Works the same either way.  I ended up most of the time cutting mine on a separate piece of plastic, then carefully and slowly transferring the cut parts to the piece to be painted.  That way you avoid leaving exacto cuts in your armor when the tape is removed.

Nice work!
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Re: Stencilling Tutorial
« Reply #6 on: Oct 13, 2009, 06:15 PM »
I love you for posting this...... thank you :D
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Athin Ordo

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Re: Stencilling Tutorial
« Reply #7 on: Oct 14, 2009, 08:59 PM »
Final products, of a sort.

I still have to add clearcoat to these plates, and all the pictures were taken before the weathering was removed (thus some of the visible blue on the Veshock Clan emblem).

First up, the gut plate.

And now, the shoulder bell.  I hope my (future?) clanmates don't draw and quarter me for the way this looks weathered.  There's a gash across the trunk of the tree so... yeah... it broke Pejaa's heart to pull off the weathering...


for the record, I had already put the weathering on the plates before I came up with the stencil idea.
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Mir'ika Tarvos

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Re: Stencilling Tutorial
« Reply #8 on: Oct 27, 2009, 01:48 PM »
This turned out very nice!  I'm planning on using Frisket film for stenciling, but your way worked well!
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Re: Stencilling Tutorial
« Reply #9 on: Dec 05, 2009, 04:32 PM »
nice job man, wish i would of incorporated this into my last set somehow
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Re: Stencilling Tutorial
« Reply #10 on: Jan 04, 2010, 10:36 PM »
nice job man, wish i would of incorporated this into my last set somehow
I'm planning on taking my design (when it ever gets done) to a local vinyl sign company and have then print them up. I'm looking at about eight bucks to do this then just peel them off when the paint tacks up.
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Atin Verd

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Re: Stencilling Tutorial
« Reply #11 on: Jan 05, 2010, 12:05 AM »
I used your tutorial and my stuff came out great thanks a lot for posting it
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Where life had no value, death, sometimes, had its price.
That is why the bouny killers appeared.

 


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